a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL
starts with a single step.
SOBO Mile 551.4 to 555.7 (4.3 Miles)- Mt Jefferson View Camp to Timberline Lodge
It's 5am. Time to get up if we want to have at least a slight chance of reaching the Timberline Lodge in time for the famous breakfast buffet. We are both feeling a bit nervous not knowing what the conditions are like ahead of us. According to Jerry, our informant :), we should be running into snow immediately and all the way up to the Timberline Lodge. 4.3 miles of snow. Make it 1 mile per hour progress, we should get there by 10am or 11am, and no breakfast buffet for us. So let's hope for the best while preparing for the worst. This is also our system when it comes to microspikes and ice axe. As long as we wear that stuff we are likely not to run into snow. As soon as we take them off is usually when the snow starts. Murphy's Law is what they call it, no?
So off we go, microspikes on our shoes, ice axe in the left, trekking pole in the right hand. Not even two minutes into the hike a pine cone gets into my spikes and before I know it I am laying face down in the ground, my knee bleeding, my hand hurting. What a great start to this day! Let's hope it only gets better from here. We take off our spikes and eventually reach the river down in the valley. Snow free so far. So far so good. We are feeling really lucky. So far it really is better than yesterday.
The river crossing is the first challenge (expect for staying on our feet and trying not to fall again). And it is once again pretty challenging. It's good we're crossing really early in the morning, because the snow melt and amount of water coming down gets way worse later in the day! But still, it is quite a challenge to cross on the rocks. Dario is feeling confident, jumps over to the other side, leaves his pack, comes back to collect mine so that I can cross pack-free. I manage, but not without getting my feet wet.
Onwards we go, up up up the mountain. The last climb to Timberline Lodge where the breakfast is calling us. In the beginning it's almost snow-free, but eventually the snow patches become more and more common until we are completely hiking in snow. But before we know it we are up on the plateau with 360 degree views all around us. And it's just breathtaking. We don't mind hiking in snow as long as it's not on a steep mountain where we have to traverse all the time. But this, this is fun. And then, the first signs of civilisation: ski lifts! Ski lifts running in June. Welcome to the Timberline Ski Area!
Another 30 minutes later we make it! There's the lodge, what a great moment to be back here! And to actually see the beautiful scenery where the lodge is nestled into. Last time we were here it looked like this:
Now it looks like this:
Much better. Much much better.
The breakfast buffet tastes better this time because we don't feel as deflated and demotivated as last time. We then call our parents to let them know we made it. Talk with them some more. Always great to talk to family. <3
We then collect the box we had shipped here and consider our options. The next stretch is from McKenzie Pass near the town of Sisters to Shelter Cove at Lake Odell. 75 Miles. It's Tuesday today (we arrived 1.5 days earlier than planned!) and we know that the weather will turn bad on Thursday. We also know that this section will most likely be 100% snow covered. We don't want to be doing these miles in bad weather. It will be challenging enough with the sun shining. Maybe we should get a room at the lodge and stay here for the night before hitching to Sisters? We're not really in a rush... or we hitch to Sisters and try and gather some local intel. Maybe it won't be as bad? While we are debating what to do, a woman approaches us asking if we're PCT hikers. Yes we are, and so is she. Carmen is a Kiwi, and hiking with a Dutch couple: The Duchess and The Flying Dutchman. There are thruhiking this year but have been finding it really rough to find snow-free sections this year! It turns out they also just hiked here from Cascade Locks and the footsteps we saw and that helped us out immensely belonged to them! They will continue south from Highway 26 to Sisters and will take the bus down to Government Camp from where they are hoping to catch a ride to the trailhead. We decide to join them on the bus and hitch to Sisters. Staying at the Timberline Lodge is just too expensive (and overrated according to our 3 new hiker friends).
The bus soon shows up, we pack our packs and our huge box into it and get a ride down to Government Camp. Now to find a hitch for 5 people (because as it turns out, we all need to head west from here on Highway 26). And we're in luck. After about 10 minutes a lovely couple in a truck stops for us. Not only will they take the other three down the road to the trailhead, but since they are headed to Bend they can take us almost to Sisters!!! It's like a 2h drive, so we are really lucky! We were counting on taking at least 3 different hitches to get to our final destination today!!!
We are all bundled up in the back of the truck, exchanging phone numbers and having a blast. Sooner rather than later the other hikers get off and we jump into the front of the truck. Steve and Cathy are a great couple from Vancouver, WA and time passes by really quickly while we tell each other all about our lives. We are dropped off past Redmond and soon get another hitch by a young local couple. They drop us off at the Sisters Campground.
As we are still not sure if we will hike out the next day or not we decide to get everything ready in case we are hiking out the next day. This means doing laundry and getting some new carton boxes for shipping. We skip dinner because we aren't hungry at all - that breakfast buffet really has got you covered for the whole day (Dario did eat 4 plates packed with eggs, sausages, ham and frittata)!
So for now we are ready to hike out the next day and brace the worsening weather. We should be able to reach Elk Lake in 2.5 days, this would give us a shelter while it's raining, and possibly snowing on us. But nothing is set in stone, we'll just wait and see in the morning. But so far we are right on schedule!